India needs to weigh the pros and cons of Iran ties
As Iran's top leadership basks in the afterglow of NAM, time for a reality check. How many of us know there' a warrant of arrest out for former Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani? Or for Ahmad Vahidi, a former Iranian defence minister? The warrants were issued by the Argentine government in November 2006 for two terror attacks, one in 1992 and another in 1994 against Israeli diplomats and the local Jewish community that killed 117 people.
Something for India to chew on as the investigation into the attack on an Israeli diplomat in Delhi hits the Iranian wall. One presumes India would have told the Iranians to take their battles elsewhere. But it's not clear if that message has gone home to the Iranian leadership.
The diplomatic grapevine suggests Iran's security and intelligence apparatus is under tremendous pressure from the regime to hit all real and perceived enemies. "They've been active so far not effective," a source observed pointing to the scale of Iranian attacks this year alone: Thailand and Georgia, earlier South Africa. The implication being India will need to brace for more of the same from Iran.
This is where the Indian hoopla of "civilisational ties" fades into irrelevance when it comes up against the barrier of national interests. Iran is important to India as an energy supplier and both countries did find common ground on Afghanistan during the Taliban years. But that narrative could be changing as Iran opens up to the Taliban.
Iran has been less than supportive of Pakistan-backed terrorism against India. It's also determined to have an atomic weapon (a Shia bomb against the Paki Sunni bomb). India does not want another Islamic state in its neighbourhood to have nuclear weapons, a point restated at the highest levels in Delhi. Yet India wouldn't want that issue to be resolved by force of arms. Meaning the deadlock should not be an excuse for the West to militarily intervene.
But with the US in a sensitive election year, President Obama cannot afford to show any weakness on Iran. Which is why two months ago, details of the first ever attack using cyber weapons were deliberately leaked to the media (New York Times). Iran's nuclear facilities were targeted in 2010 using the Stuxnet worm developed at a US military facility. The attack reportedly setback Iran's uranium enrichment programme.
Domestic opinion in Israel is against any conflict with Iran but that could change if evidence emerges that Iran has fast tracked its nuclear programme. A strike on its facilities may or may not succeed but would certainly push the Iranian leadership to target the Jewish enemy wherever they maybe and that could mean more diplomatic blood spilled on Indian streets.
More about Surya GangadharanSurya Gangadharan is International Affairs Editor at CNN IBN and was in Egypt to cover the anti-government movement. He has covered wars in Afghanistan, the UN intervention in Somalia and Rwanda, elections in Pakistan and the civil conflict in Sri Lanka where he interviewed the top leadership of that time. He has worked for the Straits Times Group in Singapore and also for PTI, the Indian Express and India Today in India.
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